Woman sleeping with joint pain in elbows and wrists

If you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA), your doctor is probably focused on controlling your joint pain and damage as well as keeping any psoriasis skin plaques under control. That makes sense, but research suggests that PsA patients often have to deal with sleep disturbances and mood issues as well.

What’s more, these problems might occur even if PsA is well-controlled according to objective measures of disease activity.

That’s the chief takeaway from a recent study published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy. In the study, 137 PsA patients in Norway were asked to provide information about their sleep quality, level of fatigue, and mood (whether they were experiencing anxiety or depression).

The researchers found that:

  • 38 percent of patients reported experiencing sleep disturbances
  • 45 percent of patients reported experiencing fatigue
  • 38 percent of patients reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Patients who were in pain were more apt to experience sleep trouble and fatigue, but those with skin symptoms were not any more likely to have these problems.

Fatigue also increased the risk of having anxiety or depression; skin and musculoskeletal symptoms were not tied to an increased risk of mood problems.

“Our data highlights the need for clinicians to be aware of the presence and importance of [sleep disturbances, fatigue, and depression], judged by patients to be of particular importance, and take them into account when treating PsA patients,” the authors wrote. “Focusing only on objective measures reflecting disease activity in the follow-up of PsA patients would give a false impression of the burden of the disease.”

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Haugeberg G, et al. Psoriatic arthritis: exploring the occurrence of sleep disturbances, fatigue, and depression and their correlates. Arthritis Research & Therapy. August 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-020-02294-w.

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